Tag Archives: nova scotia

Pardon the Delay

OK, so two years is a pretty long coffee break. Especially when you’re a tea drinker.

What can I say? Working part time, raising a daughter, being a wife, having a home, trying to exercise, learn Mandarin, volunteer at my kid’s school, keep two pets alive and have a moment now and then to read a non-first-grade-level book–it’s a lot. This seemed like the lowest priority, and it just fell by the wayside. Fell and broke both legs. Did I mention the concussion?

But I had an awakening recently. It’s not working for me. Not writing–or having any creative output at all–is making me brittle. I’ve got to get back to it. For me. No one else much cares, but a life with all work and no words feels hopelessly incomplete. So I am hobbling back to Thumbstumbler, casts on both legs–figuratively speaking, people!–and a little pink in the cheeks. I suppose I’ve exposed myself as a dilettante.

Or a human. You choose.

Either way, not writing is not an option anymore. Something in me cracked when, the other day, I had to give someone a link to this blog. I hadn’t looked at it in over a year, but just logging in and seeing “No Towel for Owl” all hung out to dry like that, the last post in a series that wasn’t meant to stop, well, it made me melancholy. And irritated. It really doesn’t take much time to do this writing thing. Just a little commitment, some nimble scheduling, maybe one fewer “Grace and Frankie” episode. Still, I’ve been known to be a quitter in matters of personal endeavor, and that lone suspended owl reminded me how much I enjoyed doing this and how much I’d lost by letting it go.

Even then I worried. “There’s just no time. Where will I fit it back in?”

Then today I was at the Natural History museum with MJ–she’s six now–and I had a moment of clarity. I’d just snapped a picture of her, standing before her beloved Bird Gallery, crooning over her favorite taxidermied fowl (the Golden Eagle, in case you’re wondering), and I thought of that dangling, well-loved owl. And all the things that had come before.

And the things that are yet to come.

And I knew I had to find time.

So here I am. Because I do work part-time, and clean my house, and raise my kid, and love my husband, and read books, and jog, and volunteer, and try to be a friend, and watch too much TV, and grocery shop, and meditate. And it’s all a lot, and, as a result, I do none of it as well as I’d like.

But if I’m not writing about it I’m giving up the one thing that can make all of that OK.

And that would be for the birds, indeed.





Beach of Contract

I return to you sheepishly—the world’s worst travel blogger. It’s a designation I’m not proud of. I don’t know what happened—last year I wrote faithfully every day of my trip. This year? I didn’t want to blog about being away. I wanted to be away.

So I was. And then I felt guilty about it. That would be me in a nutshell.

Anyway. To partially assuage my guilt, here’s a whirlwind tour of some of the things I missed describing:

I did not write about my sister’s wedding. Not the 24-hour stomach flu MJ did, in the end, get the day before, nor the lovely, albeit blink-brief ceremony the day of. I didn’t write about the Deet I accidentally sprayed in my eyes at the reception, (or my subsequent eye-rinse with a nearby bottle of Pellegrino). I posted not one picture of my spectacular sister in her vintage pink gown, or her broad-grinned, big-hearted groom. But they were there, and so was I. And it was good.

A few days later I didn’t describe our harrowing car ride up to Massachusetts with five people, twenty bags, and one completely incontinent dog.

And then there was the Vineyard. Nothing written there. But oh, what I could have said. About MJ’s brass ring win at the Flying Horses Carousel. About long, guilty pleasure days at our hosts’ private beach. About fried scallops, extended outdoor showers, the Wolf range in our guest house, which I coveted painfully. About my book: “The Tiger,” which depressed and inspired me at once. About the dearth of ticks but the plethora of stinging jellyfish. (There’s always something.) About the live horseshoe crab a kid found at our beach, and MJ’s delight at same. The aforementioned species, it turns out, is five hundred million years old. Try explaining that number to a three-year-old.

Then on to Nova Scotia, land of vivid blues and barn-side reds. No writing here. None at all. But much biking. And crossword puzzling. And drinking of tea. And reading of a hardcover book called “Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms.” Nonfiction. Inspired by recent sighting. Dense, but I enjoy it. More beaches–this time public, but no less lovely. Constant sunscreen. A cave walk at the Ovens. Lobster risotto. Mosquitos abound, but less so than in summers past. There are countless spiders, though. An absurd number. Like arachnid wallpaper. I kill fewer this year. My attitude has softened. The enemy of my enemy, and all of that.

These Maritime days, although long, fly by. There is only one small drama: towards the end of our stay I hire a local boy to watch MJ. He is twelve. While she sleeps—which she does the whole time–he uses my laptop to view porn. The real stuff. Featuring all major body parts. And some minor. Fortunately I have a sense of humor. And a damp cloth. Plus, MJ and I are headed home.

And thus is a vacation spent. Failing as a blogger. And possibly as a mother. But succeeding, somewhat, at the task of relaxing. Except when I wasn’t.

Now that our plane heads home I will prepare to shed my lazy ways again. First order of business? Finish this post.

Second? Write another one tomorrow.

Third? Figure out how to set parental controls on my MacBook. Vacation will come again. This laptop will go with me.  And cheap sitters are hard to come by.


Kayakedy Yak!

The company is called “Pleasant Paddling.” But if you’re an ocean-phobic, frequently-motionsick weakling with pasta dough for trapezoids — like myself — the above name is slightly optimistic. The kayaking trip they led us out on today was, in actuality, pleasant only about half of the time. Oh, it was aesthetically pleasing, all right. But kayaking, which I’ve never done before, turns out to be exceedingly, bafflingly, humblingly difficult. For me, at least. The rest of the people on the tour seemed to do just fine. Except for my mother, who was also my rowing partner. Talk about the blind leading the blind. Oy. Maybe poor kayaking skills are genetic.

Anyway. My arms started burning about, oh, five minutes in. By twenty minutes they were shaking. At about that time I also grew seasick. This lasted the whole time. We went quite far, into some pretty stunning inlets, but after awhile the beauty of the vistas seemed unimportant next to the persistent, slogging pain of just rowing, rowing, rowing. I found myself singing “back on the chain gang” to keep myself going. Mom and I laughed nervously as we fell further and further behind.

Towards the end of the trip our group arrived on the “open sea” (we were never more than ten feet from land, but this part had no protective coves). Mom and I, both totally spent, promptly stopped making forward progress. We rowed, but nothing seemed to happen. Our giggles became cackles of hysteria. Waves, round and determined, swarmed beneath us, rocking our tiny vessel vertiginously. I started wondering what throwing up off the side would be like. Good thing for Mom I was in the back.

In the end we had to be rescued by the leader, (who preferred the word “recovered.”) We had to be towed, like recalcitrant students in a broken-down school bus. Embarrassing. But also? A huge relief. It was the best part of the trip. When our guide got us past the choppy part and turned to untie his kayak from ours Mom said, with great disappointment, “can’t you tow us all the way back?”

Amen, Ma. But he didn’t comply. So much for chivalry.

Having said all of that, our three-hour trip into the tidal byways of Blue Rocks — one of the most picturesque areas in the Maritimes — was memorable, lovely, and well worth doing. Too bad there aren’t more pictures, but one gets nervous about bringing one’s camera out of its ziploc bag when only an inch of plastic separates you from the ocean deeps.

Weather, or Not.

Day three of straight rain. And much more, apparently, to come. There are only two museums here. We’ve already been to one. There’s a week to go. Myra-Jean is acting like a rabid Australian Shepherd puppy who’s been locked in a crate for a week. Must find a way to run her. There are no indoor playgrounds here. There are barely outdoor playgrounds. The ones there are are splintery, wasp-infested deathtraps.

Is it weird to go to the beach when it’s pouring? We will soon find out.

Na Na Mornings

The sea breezes are exquisite. The biking, tremendous. The little farmhouse, with its scuffed wood floors, narrow staircase, wee rooms, clawfoot tub, and view of the bay: delightful. The air, the sun, the late, light, evenings with their gold-soaked clouds? Breathtaking. And the beaches are a brilliantly-kept secret.

But possibly the greatest part of vacation in Nova Scotia? The extra sleep.

It goes like this: MJ wakes up at her usual absurdly early hour. I take her downstairs, stumbling with fatigue. There I find Mom waiting expectantly. She gives MJ a greeting that can only be described as royal. MJ reciprocates. Hugs, gentle tones, singsong responses. “Are you hungry? “Yes, I am!” When the lovefest has run its first, ebullient course, Mom remembers me. I am bleary and agape, leaning in the doorway. “Morning,” I mumble hoarsely. Singsong is beyond me. Mom, all sympathy, says “do you want to go back to sleep?” I make a show of waving her off: “no, no, I couldn’t,” but, when she insists, I do go, and gratefully.

The feeling I experience when crawling back into bed is magnificent. It is akin to the joy I felt as a child when we had a snow day at school. Total and complete, unexpected reprieve. Thank you, providence!! Or, in this case, thank you Nana Bonnie. Then I sleep fast, hard, and only a little guiltily. When I awake, no one has missed me. And I don’t mind it one bit. The rest of the day feels like a holiday. And this repeats, pretty much every day we are here.

Fancy is nice. But these gifts of morning hours are, to me, the greatest luxury in the world.